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KC using past World Cup passion as bid for 2026 continues

Posted at 5:59 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 19:55:05-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The chance to put Kansas City in an international spotlight continues to drive organizers hoping the city can land a spot in the 2026 World Cup.

The region is trying to build the case that Kansas City should be one of the 10 cities in the United States to host a game. Seventeen cities are currently in the running.

It's a big deal for the city, as the games could attract thousands of fans, generate millions in extra economic activitiy and excite a new generation of soccer fans.

On Friday, David Ficklin, executive director of the KC 2026 committee, discussed his vision using a simple slogan: "Bring the World Cup to the Midwest."

Eleven other area leaders, representing various interests across Kansas City, are on the committee.

"It will transform our community, there's no doubt," Kathy Nelson, Kansas City Sports Commission's executive director, said in describing the impact of the games.

Nelson compares the World Cup games to KC hosting several Super Bowls in one month.

"The minimum impact would be at least $500 million in economic activity happening in our region - that's huge," Nelson said. "There's nothing else that compares to that number."

It would also bring in thousands of fans from all over the world to KC.

"Every hotel room from here to Lawrence and the equal distance to the east will be used, so there's a direct economic impact there," Ficklin said.

But it's not just the economic boom may people on the committee are excited about; It's the growth of the sport itself.

"It would breed a whole other level of excitement and really expose it to a lot more people, and of course the younger generation," Shane Hackett, Heartland Soccer Association executive director, said.

Hackett said the SCHEELS Overland Park Soccer Complex is the largest all-turf complex in the world, which shows the region is invested in the sport.

"We have almost a half a billion, $500 million worth of soccer-specific assets that are here," Hackett said.

It's that commitment Hackett hopes will show FIFA the strength of Kansas City's dedication to soccer and hopefully win them over.

"We believe that we're really suited," Hackett said. "We're highly optimistic that we're going to be able to be successful and bring in a world cup here."

The bids are due by the end of 2020 and a decision could come either late next year or in 2021.

Sporting KC says as of mid-February over 13,000 people have signed petition to host World Cup bid at